Risk of Palm Beach car accidents could be reduced by … vibrating seats

Palm Beach car accidents could soon be avoided by vibrating driver’s seats that warn of an impending collision, MSNBC reported.

Undoubtedly, the safety improvements in automobiles have contributed to the reduction in serious and fatal car accidents. Fatal Florida traffic accidents have declined, from 2,983 in 2008 to 2,563 last year. Nationwide, the number of fatal accidents has declined sharply, from 42,836 in 2004 to 37,261 in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Safety improvements and new-age automobile features, including curtain airbags, backup cameras and backup warning systems, have certainly saved lives. But, to the extend that these systems lull a motorist into paying less attention, our Palm Beach injury lawyers think there is cause for concern. Backup warning sensors are a perfect example: A motorist that comes to rely upon them is at increased risk for an accident when he or she climbs into a car that is not equipped with the warning system.

In this case, the vibrating seat, which has been invented by a Yale professor, will warn a motorist of a vehicle approaching in a blind spot or in other hard-to-see locations around the rear of a vehicle. The vibrating, or “touch system,” has the advantage of cutting through the array of visible and audible distractions in a vehicle and can also cue a driver to the location of the danger, according to the inventor.

“Looking at an (light) and converting that into an image of a car in your blind spot requires a little more cognitive ability than if something’s touching you,” Morrell told TechNewsDaily. “It’s a more direct pathway into the brain, since touch gives you orientation for free.”

The system uses vibrating cell phone motors to massage the area of the seat back that corresponds to the approaching danger. So that a car pulling alongside the right-rear of the vehicle will cause vibration in the lower right part of the seat.

We see a number of challenges with such a system. Heavy traffic being first and foremost. While the auto industry will no-doubt continue to debut such safety devices, motorists should rely primarily on remaining alert behind the wheel and practicing the sort of safe driving habits that can help reduce the risk of being involved in a serious or fatal South Florida car accident.